Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Friday, September 23, 2005

Rural Task Force Report on School Consolidation

Rural Task Force Report on School Consolidation

By John Crabtree,

A National Rural Education Association Task Force recently released a report on school consolidation. The task force studied the history and research on school consolidation and issued a series of recommendations.

Their report stresses several crucial findings:

1. “Size” does not guarantee success – effective schools come in all sizes:
- There is no “ideal” size for schools or districts.
- Smaller districts have higher achievement and affective social outcomes.
- There is no solid foundation for the belief that eliminating school districts will improve
education, enhance cost-effectiveness, or promote equality.
- Students from low-income areas have better achievement in small schools.

2. Consolidation is not always the answer:
- The educational and financial results of state-mandated school district consolidations do not
meet legislated expectations.
- The larger a district becomes, the more resources are devoted to secondary or non-essential
- Local school officials should be wary of merging several smaller elementary schools, at least if
the goal is improved performance.
- After a school closure, out-migration, population decline, and neighborhood deterioration are
set in motion, and support for public education diminishes.

The task force supports local decision-making processes of rural school districts and opposes arbitrary consolidation efforts at the state and local levels, citing a lack of evidence that such intervention is necessary. The report concludes that rural communities should make every possible effort to maintain a physical school presence, and rural community and school leaders should take into account every possible variable to decide if “two are better than one.”

We want to hear from you too - post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


  • At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rural communities need to do everything they can to hold onto their schools. A school is the heart of a rural community. I hate it when the state trys to make rural communities close down their schools.

  • At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We have a remonstrance group right now that is hoping to stop a consolidation that will remove elementary schools from 2 small towns. Any supportive data that anyone can supply will help us to win the remonstrance race--and maybe convince the school board that in the long run they will not save money this way.

  • At 9:09 PM, Blogger Center for Rural Affairs said…

    I would be glad to post some information here, as per your request, but if you can send me your contact information I can perhaps provide more detailed information than this format allows.

    John Crabtree,


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